A New Way to Work

Success and change without burnout by Dr. Geri Puleo

Archive for the month “May, 2015”

Vacations and Burnout: Why Aren’t Employees Taking Time Off? (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

Vacations, paid time off, and even unpaid time off are benefits given to employees – but over 33% of workers don’t take advantage of it.  While there are many reasons why 169 million vacation days are unused, studies have shown that there is a distinct advantage to companies when their workforce actually uses their vacation time.

This 8-minute “mini” webinar discusses some common reasons for unused vacation days, but (more importantly) argues that employers who encourage their workers to take time away from work achieve some significant bottom line results in their overall performance.

By the way:  the latest trend is for companies to offer unlimited (or unmonitored) vacation days to their workers.  Maybe it’s time to take that long overdue vacation!

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

“Should do” vs. “Want to do”: Why Both Are Needed to Sustain Change

Change Button - BlueChange is a natural part of life.  In fact, many believe that change has become the new status quo.

But changing is rarely easy for the people who have to modify – sometimes radically – the way that they do things, their self-image, or even their goals.

In organizational change, the underlying reason is usually in response to shifts in the external environment.  The examples are seemingly endless:  A new competitor has entered the marketplace and “stolen” some of your customers.  Or perhaps a new law has drastically challenged your current payroll strategy.

Organizational change can also be in response to internal shifts, such as a new vision, business model, or target market.

But, whether the reason for the change is external or internal, the arguments made in support of the change are usually based on what the company “should” do – whether they want to or not.

And therein lies the rub:  organizations can only change when its people change.

When demands are made for people to change their normal behaviors or habits, there is an understandable pushback.  What is often overlooked is that this so-called “change resistance” can provide valuable insights into the nature of the change initiative.

But these insights can only occur if we actively solicit employee feedback before, during, and after the change.

Unfortunately, in most change initiatives, many of these change resistors are ostracized or transitioned out of the organization.

As human beings, initial resistance is somewhat of a hardwired response to change.  Just like the 3-year-old who crosses his arms and shouts “No!” when it’s time to go to bed, the logical arguments (or why sleep is necessary in order to avoid crankiness and unhappiness) usually fall on deaf ears.

In other words, although we know that the child should go to bed, he doesn’t want to go to bed.  Even though he might be forced to go to bed, it is a time-consuming, emotionally draining ordeal for both parent and child.

The same can be true of employees who are told what they should do as a part of the change initiative…but really don’t want to do.

Addressing what we should do as well as what we want to do should be an important consideration in any change initiative.

Addressing the “Should Do” of Change

Corporate leaders often have very logical, reasonable, and comprehensive reasons to change the long-term strategy or daily operations of their organizations.  They often argue their case via spreadsheets, pie charts, bar graphs, trend charts, and any other data-driven tool that can support the rational reasons underlying the need to change.

While analysis is a critical part of the planning stage of any change initiative, the role of the change manager cannot rely on pure analysis to motivate workers to change.  Organizational change is a major undertaking that can take years to fully incorporate into the existing culture – and can be emotionally draining for the entire workforce.

Although threats of what could happen if the organization doesn’t change can initially inspire fear-based change, people don’t like to live their lives in fear.  The “doom and gloom” prophecies that threaten workers’ sense of security—either now or in the future – will often result in key employees and high achievers “jumping ship” to an employment situation that is less frightening.

To sustain the long-term motivation necessary to change an organization, the focus needs to shift from managing employees to change by telling them what they must do.  Instead, change leaders need to inspire employees and seek their participation in determining the best way to create the change as painlessly and effectively as possible.

The logical “should” of a change initiative is only one part of the change equation because intellectual arguments are insufficient to inspire workers to put forth the additional effort needed to transform the workplace.

Addressing the “Want to Do” of Change

People need to be motivated to change – and motivation is not only inherently internal, it is also emotional.

Addressing this “want to do” part of the change equation requires tapping into WIIFM:  “What’s In It For Me?”  Unless employees are confident that there will be a benefit to them as a result of the change, it is doubtful that they will commit wholeheartedly to the necessary actions that will radically transform the organization.

In contrast, employees will often “go the extra mile” when they understand the value of the change initiative AND they have participated in the planning and implementation activities related to that initiative.

When people participate in identifying what needs to change, they are more likely to embrace the necessary activities that will create that change.  After all, if it’s something that I recommended, then I have a vested interest in ensuring that it will lead to the desired outcome.

Puleo’s Pointers:  3 Ways to Inspire Employees to Change

  1. Take the time to involve employees in the planning stages of the change initiative.  Be sure that they represent the various functional areas of the organization and come from different levels within the organizational hierarchy.  Not only will this assist with employee buy-in, but it will also generate some insights into the implementation plan that can easily be overlooked by senior leaders who are not intimately involved with daily operations.
  2. Treat employees like adults, not children.  Relying solely on the “shoulds” of a change initiative is the equivalent of a parent dictating actions “because they said so.”  Pushback is inevitable.  Instead, recognize that your employees are your only non-duplicatable competitive advantage and they were hired because they have expertise to perform their jobs well.  Tap into that knowledge by respecting their input and concerns.
  3. Schedule two-way conversations that address employee needs and fears associated with the change.   Announcing the change via a lecture by the CEO or an article in the newsletter typify one-way communication.  Such messages to change can easily be interpreted as being talked at rather than talking with.  But two-way conversations in live town hall meetings or even discussion boards in a special change-related online chat room enable better identification of the workforce’s WIIFM’s – which can then be used to modify, expand, remove, or add programs to the change initiative that will better encourage workers to want to do what is necessary to create the necessary changes.

Although these three suggestions take time, they can create the foundation for tremendous future benefits in efficiency and effectiveness during the implementation phase.  Employee pushback and resistance may still occur, but, through the use of participative management in the planning phase, it tends to be much less intense.

While the decision to change might be logical, the act of changing can be highly emotional.  Some changes we should do, but we won’t actually do what is necessary unless we want to do it.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Paradigm Shifter #40: You can’t do it all (so don’t apologize)

Paradigm ShiftDoes “having it all” necessary mean “doing it all?”

In today’s fast-paced, chaotic world, we’ve developed a strong tendency to “go for the gold” in everything that we do.  While excellence is a worthwhile goal, I’ve come to believe that we can’t necessarily be “the best” at everything that we do.

The problem is that we apologize for our perceived lack of “perfection” and forget to relish those things that we actually do well.

Another problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day – and we have to sleep at least some of those hours.  But few of us get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, so our energy falters even though we insist on continuing to do “everything.” The result is higher stress and an even more insurmountable “to do” list.

Why do many high achievers believe that it is imperative that we “do it all?”

Even more important:  why do so many high achievers apologize when we CAN’T “do it all?”

Delving into a sociological and psychological study into this problem is far beyond the scope of this article.  However, creating a new way to work requires that we prioritize what’s important to us.  When everything is important, then nothing is really important.

The simple truth (albeit a hard one for many of us to accept) is that we can’t “do it all.”  But we can do the important things well.   These important things represent our true priorities.  “Doing it all” inherently draws us off course as we attempt to also do the unimportant things in our lives.

“Unimportant,” however, doesn’t mean “unnecessary.”  Unimportant tasks are those activities that might need to be done – but don’t necessarily have to be done by us.

Therein lies the challenge:  when we admit that a task that we have traditionally accomplished can be done by someone else, it often causes our ego to question our “value.”  Nowhere is this more evident than in the workplace.

  • Managers who believe that they have to “do it all” are micromanagers that are rarely appreciated (or respected) by their subordinates.
  • Employees who try to “do it all” generally tend to miss deadlines because their focus is shifted to the unimportant, lower priority tasks.
  • Trying to “do it all” simultaneously at work and at home is a recipe for job dissatisfaction, relationship problems, and burnout.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is to accept the fact that I am a human – not a superhero who doesn’t need sleep, rest, and relaxation.  It also means that I can’t do everything “perfectly.”

But admitting that I can’t do it all was and, to a certain extent, continues to be a challenge.

The problem is that trying to do it all leads to feelings of being overwhelmed.  Failing in our attempts to do it all leads to frustration and a diminished sense of self-worth.  Yet we continue in our misguided efforts to go beyond our very human limitations.

The cure for trying to “do it all” is to prioritize what’s important to us – and then have the courage to focus our efforts on these important activities.  It means being able to say “no.”  It also means being sufficiently confident of our own unique value so that we can feel comfortable delegating the unimportant but necessary tasks to others.

Finally, it means that we need to stop apologizing when we can’t “do it all.”

Accepting that not only we personally but also everyone else CAN’T “do it all” changes our perspectives of what is important, what is feasible, and what is just additional “stuff” that has little if any true importance.

As corporate leaders, managers, and employees, this new perspective can radically change the work environment and reduce burnout.  Understanding that we can’t “do it all” might be the first step in creating a new, more productive, and more enjoyable way to work.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Why Change Is Chaotic: How Transformation Leads to Chaos (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

Many people believe that all change is inherently chaotic…but is it?  Transformational changes tend to be more chaotic due to the difficulties in navigating the transition period from what “was” to what “will be.”

This 7-minute “mini” webinar discusses why change and transition are not the same and how you can take the first steps to minimize your feelings of change-related chaos.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Have We Forgotten How to “Play Nice” at Work?

Teamwork - Bring on new memberWhen we were children, we were always admonished to “play nice.”  In other words, we should share our toys, be nice to other people, and help our friends.   In this way, we could enjoy our time together – and maybe even learn some valuable lessons about human behavior.

As adults, the equivalent to “playing nice” with playmates is to be respectful and helpful to our coworkers.  We should share our resources, respect our differences, and assist our colleagues when they run behind schedule or need a hand.

Like when we were children, we expect that there will be reciprocity:  if I “play nice” with you, then you will “play nice” with me.

While childhood was a much simpler time, these life lessons still ring true in the modern workplace.

However, I often wonder if we’ve really learned how to apply these childhood lessons of “playing nice.”  I have to ask:  have we forgotten how to “play nice” at work?

“Playing Nice” Is Inherently Reciprocal…or Is It? 

Just like no man is an island, no employee works alone.  We need to work with others in order to get the job done.

Ideally, teamwork enables us to get things done as the result of synergies arising from applying our individual KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) to the task at hand.  The whole of our efforts, therefore, is much greater than the sum of our individual parts.  By helping one another, no one is overburdened or stressed out.

The ability to effectively work in teams also reflects (to a large degree) our mastery of interpersonal communication skills.  The logic is that teams understand how to communicate, embrace differences, and share a single-minded focus on an ultimate, unifying goal.  By being on “the same page,” conflict is reduced or averted.

All of these mantras on teamwork reflect the idea of “playing nice.”

However, problems occur when some team members “play nice,”…but others don’t.  When this occurs, there are inevitable feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal – feelings that ultimately affect organizational productivity and performance.

Consider these examples:

  • Stanley is an extroverted, dedicated employee who makes the time to lend a helping hand to his colleagues.  During his 360° performance review, he is shocked to learn that his coworkers said that he was difficult to work with and actually prevented them from doing their own work.
  • Samantha is a highly creative employee to whom colleagues frequently turn when “stuck” on problems that require outside the box thinking.  As a key partner in the development of a new program, she is startled to discover that her coworkers “forgot” to mention her as a crucial part of the development team when they were interviewed for an article.

How would you respond in these situations?

Stanley chose to become more “cool” or aloof in his interactions with the coworkers who he believed “threw him under the bus” – a behavior that is incongruent with what he believes is required to have a productive workplace.

In contrast, Samantha decided to begin asking for the recognition that she deserves – but fears that she will be labeled as “difficult” and not a “team player.”

In both instances, the employees were surprised by the action or inaction of their team members.  According to them, they had “no warning” that anything was wrong with their relationships.  They felt confused, angry, and betrayed.

They also believed that the best way to respond was to change their behaviors in order to better navigate the politics within their workplaces.

But perhaps more importantly, both workers changed their perceptions about the nature of their work environments.  In fact, both are considering leaving their companies.

The question, of course, is:  could these situations have been averted if all team members “played nice?”

Puleo’s Pointers:  How to “Play Nice” at Work

Even though a worker believes in sharing resources, respecting differences, and lending a hand, it is impossible to “play nice” in a vacuum.  A workplace in which all employees “play nice” requires a culture of trust.

To “play nice” in a corporate culture where workers don’t believe that their colleagues consider others’ best interests would be masochistic.  Adults will never “play nice” when “playing nice” ultimately hurts them professionally and emotionally.

  • If you want employees to “play nice” at work, then you need to establish an organizational foundation built on respect, transparency, leadership, support, and empathy.
  • Recruitment, selection, retention, performance appraisals, and development practices should be based upon and incorporate these fundamental values.
  • Corporate managers and senior leaders must also be appraised on whether their actions support or undermine a culture of trust.
  • “Playing nice” does not mean that there will be no disagreements between employees – accept that they are inevitable.  Remember:  it’s not the number of disagreements that indicates whether trust exists in an organization; rather it’s how you as a manager and/or an employee respond to conflict that reveals whether the culture is trusting or distrustful.

“Playing nice” is not an admonishment that should be given solely to children.  Given today’s chaotic, high stress workplaces, it may be the only way to achieve the natural synergies, enthusiasm, and innovation that result from people trusting each other.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Paradigm Shifter #18: Never say “never”…and never say “always”

Paradigm ShiftSome parts of life are predictable.  Birth, death, happiness, sadness, success, and failure.

Other parts of life catch us by surprise.  Serendipitous meetings, relationships, and “good luck.”  Unexpected illnesses, accidents, or tragedies.

The predictable events in life “always” happen, but the unpredictable, life-altering events are things that we “never” expect to happen.

Why, then, do so many of us use the extremes of “always” and “never” to describe what will or won’t happen in our lives?

Given the right circumstances:

  • Anyone can do anything – both good and bad.
  • Anyone can become anything – both good and bad.
  • Anything can happen to us – both good and bad.

To compound the conundrum, we humans are hardwired to paradoxically want both stability and surprise.  Yet we are bored by the predictable (the “always”) and caught off guard by the surprises (the “never”).  It’s impossible for us to simultaneously exist on both ends of this spectrum.

But life is not a black-or-white experience.  Life is inherently about the grey nuances – nothing is either totally good or totally bad.

These grey nuances of life are colored by the surrounding circumstances.  The exact same event can be viewed positively or negatively AND have good or bad consequences, depending upon what else is occurring at that time.

The events and results following whatever happens to us (both expected and unexpected) are shaped by our perceptions.  While we can control our actions and reactions to any situation, it is impossible for us to control the thoughts, minds, and actions of other people which help to shape that situation.  We might be able to influence others, but their free will assures us that we can never control them.

The curse and blessing of learning to accept that certain things are outside of our control presents a huge challenge:

  • The curse occurs when – despite our most valiant efforts – we realize that we can’t control the world around us and that bad things can (and will) happen to good people.  It can be terrifying if we choose to view ourselves as pinballs mindlessly being buffeted by the hands of fate in some cosmic game.
  • But the blessing occurs when we finally agree to control the only thing that we can control:  our own thoughts and actions.  We then recognize not only our own self-imposed barriers to success, but also our inherent power to eradicate them.  We finally have the freedom to get out of our own way.

Paradoxically, therefore, we have ultimate control yet we have no control.

The Peaceful Coexistence of Ultimate Control and No Control

Recognizing and accepting the boundaries of our personal control can be invigorating and exciting.  It creates a fertile ground for the anticipation of surprise or serendipity in our daily existence.  We begin to notice the nuances of the circumstances surrounding us and forego rigidly trying to change reality to match our personal expectations.  Living life in this way is rarely boring.

Understanding the paradox of having both ultimate control (over oneself) and an utter lack of control (over others) shatters many existing paradigms.  This balance is the core of staying on course toward our goals and mindfully enjoying the journey because:

  • We acknowledge that some things are predictable and that certain actions lead to predictable consequences, so we consciously act in ways that are more conducive to success BUT…
  • We also embrace the surprise and serendipity that are the “stuff” of life, so we focus on what we can control (ourselves) rather than what we can’t control in order to determine the ultimate “goodness” or “badness” of any unpredictable event.
  • We accept that (despite sounding like an oxymoron) change is constant and we embrace it.
  • Finally, we recognize the futility of saying “never” or “always” to describe what may or may not happen in the future.  After all, life is what happens when you’re planning something else.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Job Burnout: Should you stay…or should you go? (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

Job burnout is reaching epidemic proportions – but the fatigue associated with burnout is not cured by having a good night’s rest.  According to my findings in the B-DOC Model, the vast majority of people leave their current stress-producing work situation in an attempt to find a less toxic work environment.

Is your stress at work bad enough that you are considering leaving your current employer?  It’s a difficult decision.  This 7-minute “mini” webinar introduces 3 fundamental questions to help you decide whether you should stay…or whether you should go.

The choice of where you work is ultimately yours.  I urge you to explore these 3 questions in depth in order to make the best decision for you.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak

Control freak words“Take charge of your life!  Control your destiny!  Manifest your desires!”  We are constantly urged to plan our destinies – but, even more importantly, we are advised to control all the actions associated with ultimately achieving our goals.

Many believe that control of self and surroundings is the secret to “success.”  In other words, successful people don’t leave fate to chance – they “take the bull by the horns.”

But this well-meaning advice is challenging in a world that is chaotic, hectic, and constantly changing.  To cope, many of us try to control that which is uncontrollable.

Is it any wonder that so many of us have become stressed out control freaks?

The Control Freak’s Obsessive Need to Control EVERYTHING

While we may be able to influence events and circumstances, we must ultimately face the fact that we humans simply can’t control it all.  But it often takes a long time to realize this basic truth about human potential and limitations.

In an effort toward full self-disclosure, I admit it:  I am a reformed control freak.  Although I shudder when I think about it, like many other control freaks, this is just a small sampling of the ways in which I used to try to control everything:

  • For relaxation, I scheduled in periods of planned spontaneity…in other words, I couldn’t be spontaneous unless I planned for it.  (Ugh.)
  • I rationalized my controlling behaviors as the result of being someone who cares a lot…perhaps too much.
  • I was the poster child for “paralysis by analysis”…and spent countless hours planning my schedule hour-by-hour.  (Ironically, I could never quite grasp why my days tended to rarely go as I had anticipated – in which case, I tried to control even more.)
  • I worried about what the future would hold…and arrogantly believed that I could assuage those fears by trying to control not only myself, but also everything around me.

Do any of these behaviors sound familiar?

Control freaks often say that we don’t try to control other people, but the results of our controlling behaviors prove otherwise.  Control freaks are much more prone to micromanage due to a refusal to fully recognize the talents, skills, and abilities of the people around them.

After all, delegation is impossible when you are trying to control everything.

There seems to be one universal blind spot shared by all degrees of control freaks:  although we don’t want others to control us, we forget that others also don’t like it when we try to control them.

In addition, most control freaks are perfectionists.  Both believe that things must be done right (according to our own exacting standards).  Anything less than perfection is unacceptable…and often perceived as an abject failure.

While doing something perfectly is a noble goal, it is also unachievable.  There is always something that could have been done better – which is a good thing because that helps us to learn and move forward.

However, to the perfectionist control freak, it “makes sense” to give up or avoid taking the necessary actions if there is any chance that the result will be anything less than perfect.  Procrastination is the close cousin of perfectionism.

Puleo’s Pointers:  Feeling Good About Letting Go of the Need to Control

The gnawing fear predicating much of the control freak’s behaviors is an often unwarranted lack of belief in our ability to effectively respond to the unexpected.

To a control freak, surprises are never a good thing.  In fact, we try to mitigate this fear by attempting to compulsively control everything around us so that we are never “surprised!”

What we forget is that those unforeseen situations, events, opportunities, or obstacles are an unalterable part of being alive.  In fact, it’s the serendipity and surprises that keep life interesting and exciting.

The stories of our lives are shaped by the unexpected.  Whether the surprises are immediately positive or initially negative, they change our perceptions and alter the trajectory of our lives.

However, I’m not going to lie:  letting go of the security blanket of compulsive control wasn’t easy.  It required a major paradigm shift in how I viewed both the world and my role within it.

What precipitated my recovery?  My tidy little world was turned upside down when my mother passed over 28 years ago after a 17-month battle with cancer.  In navigating the five stages of grief both prior to and after her passing, my ultimate acceptance required three important realizations that shattered my belief that I could (and should) control everything.  I realized that:

  1. The majority of things in life are outside of our control – the only things that we can control are our actions right now and our reactions to whatever happens.
  2. Despite what we might think, we’re never given more to handle than what we can handle – and if it’s particularly difficult, it is an incredible opportunity to grow.
  3. There are no guarantees in life – so it’s foolish to waste even a minute by not being fully present and mindful.

Of course, recovery from being a control freak doesn’t happen overnight.  But I now have a new understanding of a simple paradox:  by letting go of trying to control everything, I not only accomplish more, but also (and more importantly) enjoy the process.

Even better, I am confident about my ability to move forward no matter what “surprises” may occur.

Yes, I still plan.  Yes, I still analyze.  And, yes, I still have control mechanisms in place to make sure that I am on course.  But instead of the compulsive need to control controlling me, I now harness it as a tool to move forward in my life.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Paradigm Shifter #45: When someone shows you who they are, believe them!

Paradigm ShiftWhy do so many people’s actions take us off guard?  Why then do we hit ourselves on the head and ask, “How could I not have seen this coming?!?!”

We’ve all had situations where we’ve met someone and their actions or words initially surprised us.  The problem is that most of us tend to give others the “benefit of the doubt.”  We downplay our surprise at others’ words or actions through rationalization.

For example:

  • Lying:  “He told me that he’s a very honest person, but he also admitted that sometimes you’ve got to lie to get the job done; I’m sure that I won’t be one of the people he’d lie to…”
  • Incompetence:  “He wasn’t fully prepared for our meeting, but I guess that’s because he was busy with other clients; I’m sure that once I hire him, he’ll have more of an incentive to really work for me…”
  • Experience:  “He assured me that he has over 20 years experience and has won a lot of awards in his field; I wonder why he didn’t recommend any solutions to my problems and just offered to do whatever I told him to do…”
  • Inexperience:  “He said that he wasn’t really knowledgeable about my problem, but that he would work hard with me to solve it; I wonder why he didn’t do any of the preliminary research before our first meeting…”

Do any of these situations sound familiar?  Have you (like I have often done in the past) disregarded the disconnect when something just didn’t add up?  When you noticed the incongruity between words and actions, did you keep that in mind as you moved forward in the relationship?

I’ve talked about this issue before in Paradigm Shifters #30 – Believe what people do, not what they say.  Unfortunately, there seems to be an increase in the degree of disconnect between someone’s words, expressed priorities, and actions.  Trying to determine the cause is beyond the scope of this paradigm shifter; instead we need to focus on how we can best respond to these disconnects.

The burning question that must be addressed is:  “Is this person intentionally trying to deceive me OR does he/she really believe what it is that they are saying??  In other words, are they aware of the disconnect between their words and actions?

I admit that I tend to give the benefit of the doubt, so I believe that many people are unaware.  However, I have also learned to notice this disconnect and to refer back to it when interpreting events and situations in that relationship.

Disconnects between words and actions don’t exist when people are living authentically.

If someone is living authentically, then there a strong foundation built on core values that underline everything that he or she does.  These values are obvious.  We can see them in their actions.  And whether we agree with these values or not, we understand who that person is.

Whenever there is a disconnect between words and actions, we need to make conscious decisions in determining how to proceed:

#1:  Notice your feelings of surprise or confusion.  It’s not what people say that they’re going to do that matters; it truly is what they do that matters.

#2:  Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification – repeatedly.  If they are intentionally trying to deceive you, you’ll notice fidgeting and squirming – watch their body language.  Also watch their eyes:  if they can’t look at you, then they might be hiding something.  However, if they’re really good at deception, repeatedly ask for clarification until YOU are fully satisfied; we often quit asking questions if we believe that we are making the other person too “uncomfortable.”

#3:  Don’t forget your initial feelings as you move forward in the relationship.  Ironically, people tend to be the most forthcoming about who they are when you first meet them.  If their words or actions gave you pause, don’t just “pooh-pooh” your instincts.  Respect those instincts – they are often insights working more on the subconscious level that haven’t fully filtered up into conscious levels of critical thinking.

#4:  You have a choice in how (and if) the relationship progresses.  There is no need to get in heated arguments if the disconnect continues.  After all, you noticed the disconnect previously so you also play a role in how the relationship evolves.  What you decide to do often depends on the degree of the disconnect AND the importance of those underlying values to you.

People are the foundation of any relationship – whether it’s personal or professional.  Even in the age of B2B (business to business) marketing, we still have to create trusting relationships with the employees who represent the companies with whom we do business.

Trust your instincts, ask for clarification and proof, and, above all, believe people when they show you who they really are.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

The Real Costs of Burnout (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

Too often, burnout is considered to be an individual’s personal problem relating to his or her maladaptive response to stress.  Recent research has shown, however, that organizations considerably influence the degree of stress experienced in their workforces.  What is often not considered, however, are the financial costs that the organization must pay when their workers are burned out.  Unfortunately, there are few tools used to calculate these costs.

Previously I introduced some calculations in my mini-webinar, Why Burnout Matters.  In this 16-minute “mini” webinar, I’ll share some additional calculations to help you determine the real costs of employee burnout in your organization.  Some of these costs are direct, while others are indirect.  Considering the incredible expenses associated with burnout, isn’t it time that your organization steps up to the plate by taking proactive steps to stop burnout in its tracks?

For more information on these calculations, you can review the entire report at http://www.cgsst.com/stock/eng/doc272-806.pdf.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is a change management/HR expert and the President of Change Management Solutions, Inc.  A popular speaker at regional and national conferences, she can be reached at gpuleo@ChangeWithoutBurnout.com.  You can watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: